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Executive Coaching - "Coaching helped me overcome my lack of self-confidence in working at a strategic level"

My name is Sinead Clarke and I had Executive Coaching with Denise, funded by Macmillan. I am a Macmillan Cancer and End of Life Care Lead, as well as a GP and Clinical Director for Performance, Finance and IT with the NHS South Cheshire and NHS Vale Royal Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG).

There were two key reasons why I wanted some coaching. First of all, there was a considerable amount of change going on within the CCGs and I didn’t know where I was going to be at the end of that – or where I wanted to be. Secondly, becoming Clinical Director was quite a step up for me and I felt like I needed some support to grow into my role working at a strategic level.

I had some insecurities about whether I was good enough to be Clinical Director and questioned my own leadership style. I had worked with quite a few people who utilised the top-down approach, but it had never been my style because I want to listen to everybody and consider all opinions. I felt as though people saw me as weak and unassertive. 

Macmillan sent me the profile of coaches that they work with and Denise really stood out for me. I liked the look of her approach as well as her previous experience. She had worked with people like me in the past; either in a similar role or higher up so I felt confident that she would be the right fit.

Coaching really helped me to clarify where I would like to be in my career and to overcome the lack of confidence I had about working at a strategic level. Working with Denise helped me to recognise that my skillset works well at the level I am at and that I do ‘deserve’ to be in this role. Coaching also helped me to develop my resilience and to prioritise more effectively. By understanding what my values are where I want my career to go, I can base my decisions on whether something will further my journey or not. For instance, I now understand that it is important for me to keep patient contact and not to focus solely on my strategic work.

There were a few coaching techniques that were particularly beneficial. The Chimp Paradox helped me to understand my own behaviour and to understand why other people might be behaving in a certain way. Another technique involved physically moving around and looking at things from different perspectives – almost like role-playing. I would stand up in one part of the room, say what I think about something and then move elsewhere and imagine myself either as a different person or as somebody with more confidence. Denise is very intuitive and is able to gear you towards techniques that suit you and your personality.

Coaching was transformative and totally worthwhile, but it was also challenging and I learned that you cannot change unless you are willing to look at some difficult things. Denise helped me to challenge the way I think in a very supportive way. I never felt vulnerable or exposed – just safe. I feel like I now have several techniques at my fingertips to use in difficult situations or situations where I would like to have more influence. It is like having a little toolbox.

At the end of the six-month coaching programme, when we looked back at my initial questionnaire, I could really see how far I had come. I made some major strides forwards particularly with my confidence in my own approach and with my clarity on moving forwards. I would absolutely recommend coaching and I would definitely look at having it again.

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